THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Sep01

Urban Bees

Trees for Bees

Urban Bees is bringing bees to our cities. They are not just training people in beekeeping, or partnering up beekeepers with people who have the space to keep a hive (much like the ‘adopt a beehive’ scheme run by Richard from Essex Bees) but they are also promoting bee-friendly spaces.

Just study the Trees for Bees poster above (you can also view it on the Urban Bees website.) Bees don’t want to waste energy, so planting a tree gives the bees an efficient way to earn a vital food source. We love using lime trees in a garden for a client, but the real benefit for bees comes from trees in flower early and late on in the season so get planting a strawberry tree for the Autumn and hazel and goat willow for the Spring!

(We currently have a big patch of cosmos, an annual flower, which is proving incredibly popular with the bees here in Chelmsford. It looks its best in September and should continue to flower all the way through to the first frosts. We have grown it for years now and never cease to enjoy it, as simple a plant as it is…)

Honey will look and taste differently, depending on where it is harvested. In the countryside many farms specialise in only a few crops, so bees visiting these fields will have a narrow diet. Urban bees have the diversity of the city to enjoy, so can stumble across trees and flowers they may not find in any great quantity in the country. On the Urban Bee website they talk about the taste of their honey…

“The honey has a delicate, light flavour with a slight hint of citrus as the bees will have visited many of the local lime trees that flower in June and July.”

We have read of a honey from Morocco that was thick and as dark as obsidian. The writer was almost a honey hound, scouring the world to obtain a jar (or at least a taste!) of different types. Until last year, we had never realised honey would be different depending on what the bees had to forage amongst. Nor did we appreciate how different good honey is to the stuff you get in a squeezy bottle… don’t buy that anymore, please. Look for something of quality…

Urban Bees is run by Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin – who wrote these Urban Bee Books. They are supported by organisations like River of Flowers and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, both of whom are doing important work bringing green space to London.

Do support their work and give a helping hand to our Urban Bees.

Jan12

A Topiary Calendar – When To Prune

Below are a few pointers on when you need to think about your topiary and hedges this year, so you can make sure you clip at the best time and not waste any effort doing work you don’t need to do… January & February Roses, fruit trees and wisteria is where the focus lies. Yes, it is cold and the work can be unpleasant because you are often stood on a ladder with your secateurs, barely moving enough to warm the body, but get these jobs done well, with care, and you can enjoy the fruits and flowers of your …

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Jan11

The English Garden Magazine – On Our Topiary Workshop

Last September when I and topiary artist (and mentor) Charlotte Molesworth ran a weekend of topiary masterclasses we had a visit from the garden writer Non Morris. You can read more about Non and her garden design work and writings here. She has written a lovely article for the February 2022 edition of The English Garden Magazine about her afternoon working with us and learning about topiary – I’m really thrilled by the piece, because she mentions not just a little of the wonderful history of Balmoral Cottage and how the garden grew, but also shares a little of how …

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Nov17

Topiary Provocation Autumn 2021

This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies?